In a market saturated by multiple ecommerce platforms, it can be difficult to figure out which platform is best for your online store. Here is a BigCommerce vs Shopify vs Volusion comparison guide to help you decide which one of these ecommerce platforms is for you.
From someone on the outside looking in, the platforms are similar and do the job well. While each platform has the necessary tools to help you sell online, the major differences are exposed when you begin the configuration process and fulfill your first order. Hence, you quickly realize the type of user each ecommerce platform caters to.
Quick ecommerce platform comparison
I created a simple, easy-to-follow side-by-side chart with a brief overview that includes the price, active stores, and noteworthy features for each ecommerce platform. If you do not have a lot of time to read the entire comparison, the chart below is good to skim over.
While Volusion is cheap, Shopify and BigCommerce host major companies such as Wikipedia and Toyota.
10 consideration factors
Here are 10 consideration factors to look into before making a final decision:
I am never in favor of choosing an ecommerce platform solely on price only. You get what you pay for. However, I do understand that budget plays a role in the selection process.
Here is how BigCommerce, Shopify, and Volusion compare in terms of pricing (to get an accurate comparison, I am only comparing the cheapest plan offered by each platform):
Price: $29.95 per month or $323.46 per year with discount
Transaction Fees: None
This plan allows you to sell up to $50,000 in sales every year. Exceeding this threshold will require you to upgrade to a higher plan. You can try BigCommerce free for 15-days here.
Price: $29 per month or $313.20 per year with discount
Transaction Fees: 0% (waived if using Shopify Payments)
Shopify offers a plan that enables you to sell solely on Facebook for $9 a month. You can try Shopify free for 14-days here.
Price: $15 per month or $162 per year with discount
Bandwidth: 1 GB
Transaction Fees: None
Volusion charges bandwidth overage fees for crossing the threshold associated with your plan. You can try Volusion free for 14-days here.
2. Shopify charges transaction fees
A benefit of using BigCommerce and Volusion is the fact that you do not have to pay transaction fees. You are free to use any plan and payment processing service without having to worry about transactions fees.
On the other hand, Shopify charges transaction fees of up to 2%. It all depends on the plan you use. In order to avoid paying transaction fees, you need to process payments using Shopify Payments, which is their in-house payment processing service.
3. Volusion charges bandwidth fees
All Volusion plans offer limited bandwidth ranging from 1 GB to 35 GB. As of right now, current bandwidth overage fees are set at $0.007 a megabyte. BigCommerce and Shopify offer unlimited bandwidth on all plans, so they do not charge any bandwidth fees.
4. BigCommerce has an annual sales restriction
This is a problem of using BigCommerce for ecommerce. The annual sales volume is $50,000 for the Standard plan, $125,000 for the Plus plan, and $1,000,000 for the Pro plan. In other words, as you go over these limits, you will need to upgrade to a more expensive plan.
Shopify and Volusion do not have a limitation on the amount of revenue your store can process.
5. BigCommerce and Volusion offer unlimited staff accounts
This is where BigCommerce and Volusion separate themselves from the competition by offering unlimited staff accounts for your business. In other words, you can create an account for other employees that need access to certain areas of your business (e.g. store design, order fulfillment, etc.), which is a crucial function of any business. In addition, the permissions you set can be changed at a later time, and only the primary account owner can add and delete staff accounts.
Shopify offers you the option to create staff accounts, but you can only create a limited number of secondary accounts. The number of staff accounts that you can create is dependent on the Shopify plan you are on – the current number of staff accounts that you can create is anywhere from 2 to 15 accounts.
6. BigCommerce offers more ecommerce features
I am sure that you know BigCommerce, Volusion, and Shopify offer external app stores where you can add additional features and functions to your store. However, it is important to understand that not all apps are free. A lot of the apps are premium, which means that you have to pay a separate monthly fee to use the particular feature. This cost is on top of the fee that you pay for the ecommerce platform, which can take a toll on your budget.
Out of the ecommerce platforms being compared here, BigCommerce offers a large number of built-in ecommerce features that are already integrated into their platform. Some noteworthy BigCommerce features include point of sale, eBay and Amazon sales channel, Google shopping, Google trusted stores, real-time shipping rates, customer segmentation, abandoned cart saver, and the ability to sell on Facebook and Pinterest.
While both Shopify and Volusion offer similar features, you need to upgrade to a more expensive plan or install an external app to access some of them.
7. Shopify has a large app store
As mentioned above, Shopify might not have all of the ecommerce features built into their platform, but they offer one of the largest ecommerce app stores in the industry – some apps are free, while others are paid. For instance, you can integrate with apps for marketing, sales, shipping, accounting, inventory, and others. Every single one of these apps is going to streamline your business in one way or another.
BigCommerce and Volusion also offer an app store where you can add additional features and administrative functions to help you manage your business. However, both of the apps stores offer a limited selection. This is probably due to the fact that a lot of the companies create apps to integrate with the most popular platform first, which, in this case, is Shopify.
8. Volusion offers recurring billing
If you are selling subscription-based products, recurring billing is an absolute must for you. Volusion is one of the few ecommerce platforms that offer built-in recurring billing. This means that you do not have to install and pay for an external app to use the recurring billing feature. Recurring billing is included with every Volusion plan. Recurring billing is located under the orders tab in your admin area. You also have the option to accept recurring donations.
In order to use recurring billing on BigCommerce, you need to install the Paywhirl app (also available on Shopify), which offers a free starter account and multiple paid plans. Paywhirl charges transaction fees ranging from 0.5% to 3%.
Shopify has a handful of apps for recurring billing, but my favorite ones are Recharge and Bold. Both Recharge and Bold cost $19.99 a month and charge a 1% in transaction fees on recurring orders only.
The monthly cost that you pay for these recurring billing apps is on top of what you will pay for your BigCommerce or Shopify plan. If you need to use recurring billing, Volusion is the cheapest option.
9. Point of sale
Point of sale is a tool that connects your online store to your physical retail store, and lets you manage both in one centralized location. Each platform offers a simplified point of sale solution that you can use to connect your online store to your physical store. For instance, you can apply discounts to orders, accept any form of payment, and email customized receipts right from the point of sale system that is offered with each platform.
10. Pros and cons
I have not come across an ecommerce platform that is perfect. Each platform has a set of strengths and weaknesses.
Stores built with BigCommerce: Toyota, Martha Stewart, and Payless.
- The platform caters to a range of businesses, both big and small, and has very minor limitations.
- BigCommerce offers the most helpful and practical tools that you will need for ecommerce.
- A large number of free and premium templates that you can install on your store, and edit using HTML and CSS.
- The platform offers unlimited core features such as traffic, products, and images.
- Strong importing and exporting tools that you can use to transfer an existing shop to BigCommerce, and upload products in bulk.
- The platform is constantly updated with the latest ecommerce features.
- With the exception of the Enterprise plan, the remaining BigCommerce plans have a limitation on the amount of revenue you can process each year.
Stores built with Shopify: Wikipedia, Tesla, and Google.
- Their ecommerce platform offers an intuitive, user-friendly store configuration process.
- Shopify has a comprehensive external app store that you can use to add more functionality to your store.
- The admin backend and dashboard navigation is user-friendly.
- All checkout pages are multi-lingual. This is crucial if you plan on selling in other countries.
- Shopify is extremely affordable with plans starting at $9 per month (this plan allows you to sell on Facebook only).
- The platform offers a built-in point of sale system that enables you to sell offline.
- Transaction fees can be as high as 2%, depending on the plan selected. These fees can be waived by using Shopify Payments.
- The platform uses a custom template markup language called “liquid.”
- Their cheaper plans limit certain features such as discounts and real-time shipping rates.
Stores built with Volusion: Toni & Guy, This American Life, and Jane Seymour Botanicals.
- Volusion offers a comprehensive list of features that are already integrated into the platform.
- Simplified store management options, making it simple to control inventory, sales, and customers.
- The platform does not charge any transaction fees.
- The platform offers advanced marketing features (deal of the day, customer loyalty program, newsletters, and product reviews).
- Volusion integrates well with external payment gateways.
- You will have the option to create unlimited product options.
- You can use a one-page or multi-page customer checkout experience.
- Every plan has a limitation on bandwidth (current bandwidth overage fees are $0.007 a megabyte).
- While most of the ecommerce themes are responsive across various devices, a lot of the themes are basic for an online store.
- A blogging platform is not yet integrated into the ecommerce platform.
BigCommerce vs Shopify vs Volusion – Conclusion
At the end of the day, the decision comes down to your budget and preference. It is important to choose an ecommerce platform that covers a lot of the things that you need. Furthermore, if you are comfortable using one platform over the other, I say go for it.
If I had to make a decision right now, I would be in favor of BigCommerce because the platform offers unlimited staff accounts and gives you complete control over the design aspect. Finally, BigCommerce does not charge any transaction fees, which is always a big plus.
If you do not feel that BigCommerce is not a good fit for your business, Shopify and Volusion are worthy alternatives.
Still not sure which ecommerce platform is for you? Try them all for free:
- BigCommerce (offers a 15-day free trial)
- Shopify (offers a 14-day free trial)
- Volusion (offers a 14-day free trial)
Let me know which one you end up choosing for your business.